From The Sunday Morning Sunrise

Sunday morning, and it’s a pretty one
It was mornings like this one. I remember.
The sun was out and the early frost was on the grass of our Long Island town. I was a boy then.
I played football on a team called The Levittown Red Devils
We were dropped off an hour before game time; we ran laps, stretched, and did our version of calisthenics.
Our young growls resulted with smoke leaving our mouth from the cool morning air.
We counted out loud, “1, 2, 3, ONE…1, 2, 3, TWO 1, 2, 3, THREE!”
Our hands rose above our head, and then slapped down against our padded sides as we called out the numbers of our jumping jacks.  As time grew closer to kick off, parents would arrive in the stands, often sitting with the same cluster of friends, and often holding cups of hot coffee.
I was nine years old. My shoulder pads were bigger than I was. My helmet was loose, but it was fixed tightly on my head with a white chin strap and gray pocket that cupped beneath my chin. I had a gray facemask across my white helmet, inside padding, and every time I ran, it sounded as if my head were being rattled in a soup bowl.
I have a cute picture of this somewhere…I swear I do.
My scrawny little legs were tucked in red pants with knee pads, thigh pads, and of course, hip pads. We wore cups down the front of our shorts and a pad shoved down the back to cover the tail bone.
I never knew who we were playing. I just knew I had to show up.
And the closer we were to game time, the louder our coaches would scream. They charged us like young rabid dogs about to fight a pack of wolves.
We circled around and began to pat our thighs in a pattern, which sounded more like a war cry without words.
We patted our thighs twice and then we clapped our hands. It sounded like, “Thump…..thump….clap…thump….thump….clap.”
The coach shouted, “What do you say boys?!” and our circle began to frenzy. We drew in closer and the repetition of banging on our pads grew faster. “Thump..thump..clap..Thump..thump..clap.”
“What do you say boys?!”
“Thump, thump, clap. Thump, thump, clap.” Then the circle caved in and every boy on the team collided into the center.
“This is our field,” the coach ordered. “And no one walks on our field and takes a win from us. Am I right?”
In our collected snarls, the team answered, “Right!”
“What was that,” he screamed. “I can’t hear you….I said ‘NO ONE WALKS ONTO OUR FIELD AND TAKES A WIN FROM US,’ am I right?”
“RIGHT!” shouted the team.
“Good,” he commanded. “Now bring it in.”
Then we all huddled in on one knee. Our arms wrapped over each other’s shoulders like a young soldiers preparing for battle.
We pulled in tight; all of us were eager to play, all of us were eager to make the highlights, and each of us were eager to make our folks proud as they cheered from the stands.
In one last direction, the coach encouraged us, and as his young soldiers, we put our hands in the middle of the huddle.
We listened when he ordered, “Let’s do it! Win on three, ready?” and we answered, “1, 2, 3 WIN!”
I remember The Old Man standing on the bleachers. I remember the flannel shirt he wore and the expression on his face as he clapped his hands.
I’m not sure if he was thinking, “That’s my son,” but I know when I looked over at him I thought to myself, “That’s my Dad!”
I wanted to make him proud
This leads me to now; in a short while I have to drop my daughter off so she can get ready for a fashion show.
In an event for charity, each little girl will be dressed in their own American Doll outfit.
No, I do not suppose there will be any screaming coaches.
I don’t believe there will be any need for jumping jacks, or useful chants to rev young engines into attack mode.
But there will be a proud father standing in the stands, clapping for his child, and making sure that everybody knows, “That’s my little girl!”
I hope you’re watching from the stands, Pop….they’re about to put my little girl on the stage
Enjoy your Sunday, folks
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